You may have an idea of how many calories you're eating each day...but how many calories are you drinking? Liquid calories can add up quickly...you may be surprised just how much these extra calories can impact your weight and health!
Have you ever counted the amount of calories you consume from drinks in a day? If the answer is no, then after reading this I want you to start keeping track of the calories from your drinks for one day. This includes any bottled beverages, soda, flavored waters, teas, coffee drinks, juices, sports drinks, lemonade, beer, cocktails, wine, etc. Here's an image to give you an idea of just how much these calories can add up throughout the day:
For someone looking to lose weight, this is a huge concern! 1370 calories just from beverages alone? You're guaranteed to go over your daily caloric needs...and excess calories leads to excess weight. Often times when people feel a mid-day lack of energy, they grab a sugar-packed energy drink or soda. The problem with these drinks is that they contain no fiber and essentially no other source of calories besides straight sugar. This sugar will cause a spike in your blood glucose, which can cause an energy jolt for a short period of time, followed by an energy crash. Reducing your intake of soda (both regular and diet) and energy drinks will improve your waist line and your overall health. People often end up eating more calories overall when they rely on drinks to fix their lack of energy. When you feel this mid-day slump coming on, get up and go for a short walk even if it's just for a few minutes. Try eating a snack such as almonds and an apple, yogurt and berries, or a banana and peanut butter. Eating a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack will help keep you satisfied and less likely to overeat later in the day. If you're a soda drinker, I'm challenging you today to try going three weeks (21 days) without soda...both regular and diet!
Vitamin Water/Flavored Waters:
Drinks like vitamin water and other flavored waters are loaded with sugar. These may as well be called sugar water...and the diet versions are no better for you. Yes they will be lower calorie, but now you're consuming a drink loaded with artificial sweeteners and flavorings. The name vitamin water is deceiving as you think you're getting loads of healthy nutrients and vitamins...however there is NO fiber and not near the amount of nutrients you'd get from eating the fruit itself. Ditch the sugar water and flavor your water with fresh fruits instead. There are water bottles that you can buy that have a separate compartment to place fruit in to make your own "infused" water. Try lemons, limes, strawberries, cucumbers, or oranges! Other healthier alternatives if you're looking to get that same "fiz" or carbonation as soda are La Croix and Dasani sparkling water.
If you are serious about losing weight, you may want to consider limiting your intake of alcohol. With the exception of the antioxidants found in red wine, alcohol has no nutritional value. It can also be detrimental to muscle recovery, so athletes should limit alcohol intake after intense workouts to allow their muscles to fully recover, preventing injury and prolonged soreness. Another tip: don't make the mistake of ordering a vodka tonic and thinking it's a healthier option than your traditional vodka drink - tonic water is packed with sugar! Avoiding cocktails with added mixers, syrups, sodas, juices, and creams helps to steer away from higher-calorie sips that can end up ranging anywhere from 250 to 850 (!!) calories.
Best choices: a glass of red wine or a vodka water/club soda (optional add splash of juice or lemons & limes).
Request that your drink be made with skim or 1% milk instead of 2% or whole milk. If using soy or almond, make sure it is an unsweetened flavor to avoid added sugar.
Cut back on the syrups – if you typically order a flavored latte, try asking for half the syrup. Slowly cut back on the syrup each time. One pump of syrup at Starbucks has 20 calories and 5 grams of sugar...a grande latte typically has four pumps of syrup..that's 20 grams of sugar!!
- Skip the whip – you’ll be saving loads of calories, sugar, and fat!
- Best coffee shop choices: black coffee (with an optional splash of skim or low-fat milk added…no cream!), unsweetened hot/cold teas, unflavored latte or cappuccino (made with low-fat or skim milk).
- Avoid the frappuccinos! Check out this article to see just how much sugar is in each of the new frappuccino flavors at Starbucks!
- Order the smallest size smoothie available.
- Ask to see nutritional information to see how much and where the carbohydrates and sugars are coming from. You may have to ask questions. For example, if the smoothie lists yogurt…is it frozen yogurt? Flavored yogurt? Nonfat plain? And for the fruit, if it is frozen is it sweetened or unsweetened? Are there additional juices added? Ask that your smoothie be prepared without any additional syrup, and forgo any “agave” or “honey” in your smoothies…with all the fruit, it will be sweet enough already!
- Choose a smoothie over a freshly squeezed juice. Smoothies typically include the entire fruit, which contains fiber to help keep you full and vitamins & minerals that may be lost in the juicing process. Juices often leave you primarily with sugar.
- Best smoothie/juice bar choices: A smoothie that contains vegetables, not just fruits. A smoothie that has some source of protein (such as peanut or almond butter, nonfat yogurt, or milk). A smoothie that does not contain additional sugar outside of the fruit (such as ice cream, frozen yogurt, agave, or flavored non-dairy milk).